Doctor Who Marco Polo

Published on November 23rd, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

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Marco Polo Discovery Claim: Recorded By A Fan?

Ever since the missing episodes #omnirumour train started rolling, one serial that has often been mentioned is lost Doctor Who classic Marco Polo from 1964.

Even as recently as last week there were rumours that an episode from the seven parter starring William Hartnell, Carole Ann Ford, Jacqueline Hill and William Russell – with Mark Eden as the titular historical figure – would be aired at the upcoming BFI Missing Believed Wiped event in Scotland.

Now The Mirror has broken ranks among the printed press to go public with a claim that the episodes were recorded with 16mm cine film a they were broadcast! While there are rumours that the news might be confirmed today – and what better day than Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary – it seems likely that the BBC will announce the release of the news carefully, as they did back in October with The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World.

Claims their source:

This is a massive deal for Doctor Who fans, these episodes were hugely popular with viewers when they were first shown and are set to be a hit again. This new discovery is all down to a dedicated fan who spent ages recording the episodes back in the sixties.

The fan had been holding onto these tapes for a long time and when the BBC found out about the tapes they jumped at the chance of using them. It’s a massive coup for the broadcaster.

Unfortunately there is no clue given as to just how many episodes the unnamed fan recorded in this way. The source continues:

The recording – which is a silent film – came out really clearly so it will be easy to watch… the fan did it in a very professional way.

There are already audio recordings of the episodes so the Beeb have had to match everything up. There are some gaps in the audio so it has been a painstaking process. Where there are gaps in audio they are going to be re-recorded using contemporary actors who sound as close to the original actors as possible.

At present, this is nothing more than rumours and claims. Until a formal announcement is forthcoming, we can only speculate. However, it is a tantalising proposition!

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




22 Responses to Marco Polo Discovery Claim: Recorded By A Fan?

  1. avatar iank says:

    It’s starting…


  2. Wow will be great if true

  3. avatar Al says:

    I thought Marco Polo was 7 episodes. Well, even one more episode found is a cause for celebration.


    • ah yes, should read 7 of course.

      Thanks for pointing it out.

      • avatar John Miller says:

        I thought it was damn rude and pathetically pedantic of them to point it out.

  4. avatar Mark Lenton says:

    Yeah… ‘an episode of the four parter’… what are you guys smoking?

    • avatar John Miller says:

      Apparently it’s best to e-mail the person directly. They don’t like people pointing out errors in their posts.

      It says there is no way of knowing how many episodes were recorded. Maybe it’s 4 of the 7 that were recorded in this way? Unless the whole thing is a hoax.

      • avatar DonnaM says:

        I daresay we’d all dislike having our minor slip-ups mocked with snide remarks…. I’ve never noticed Christian or any of the writers on this site (see above as a case in point!) react badly to a polite observation.

        Back on topic – it all seems a bit fishy to me, but who knows? I was deeply sceptical last time, too!

  5. avatar Rick714 says:

    I think they said the fan was holding onto the “tapes” so I’m thinking multiple and really, if someone went to the trouble of recording them, I’d *hope* they recorded the whole thing. Hoping…

  6. avatar Boffin says:

    Why have they waited? Who else is sitting on what?All very strange. I was hoping Professor Cox was going to produce an in depth plan to launch some sort of Faster Than Light probe that can overtake the missing episodes leaked radiant field out in space and recapture the signal to beam back at Earth. Sadly his bit ended with us still trapped by Einstein!! I wonder if anyone has ever suggested this kind of attempt to recover lost Eps to Mr Levine?

  7. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I’m a bit confused. If it was recorded by a fan, on film, cuz we know there weren’t any video recorders back then… how is it going to be good enough quality to possibly release into the market?

    • avatar John Miller says:

      Maybe they can make it the extra on another release?

    • avatar Jeff says:

      Because if true, that’s all there is.

  8. avatar Ian Gettings says:

    The only thing that makes me doubt this is why would a fan sit on it for all these years?

  9. avatar simon magellan says:

    Number of points here. As mentioned above – why would a fan sit on tapes like this? Secondly – there were no domestic video recorders at the time – the BBC were using video recording equipment, based on American technology, that used huge tapes. Video tape deteriorates over time quite rapidly, so hardly likely they’d be watchable now – unless transferred previously to some other format. Finally, if on film – a camera pointed at the TV – then it;s unlikely they’d be very good quality – certainly not something you could release as a primary DVD, but maybe as an extra?

    One last thought though – it was incredible that the 9 missing episodes were found, and I was sceptical about that until it happened, as I am here – but it does seem to me that it is almost beyond the realms of possibility that any more episodes would be found so soon, from a completely different source.

    I, however, wait to be proved wrong!

  10. avatar David F says:

    This story smacks of disinformation. Not the fact that Marco Polo has been recovered – it seems likely it has – but the details just seem weird. I think people involved in the process have been issuing misleading leaks to distract from the true ones. But I might well be wrong, and I guess it doesn’t matter as long as we get this legendary story back.

  11. avatar docwhom says:

    If Marco Polo is indeed rediscovered, it should finally begin John Bennett’s long awaited rehabilitation.

  12. avatar vortexter says:

    Interestingly enough, another rumour is that ‘The Feast of Steven’ has also been found. Now this is pretty unbelievable considering it was never telerecorded or sold abroad after the original was wiped.
    However…if a fan could indeed point a 16mm film camera at a screen and record the image (after all, its no different to John Cura taking telesnaps) them maybe this is an avenue that’s not so impossible to believe. After all, we have 8mm glimpses of Power and Savages etc taken from a tv source.
    If so this is amazing news!

  13. avatar Simon says:

    Throughout the last 25 years or so there have been an INCREDIBLE number of hoaxes which sounded so plausible until they all turned sour and I have a feeling this could be another one, especially as it comes bang on time with the 50th anniversary celebrations which makes me so suspicious. However – if it IS true then it is definitely possible. An 8mm cine camera would be out of the question but a 16mm one could produce a good enough picture which the Restoration Team could do wonders with. So – as always – we wait and hope and I for one have everything crossed. PLEASE don’t be another hoax!!!!!

  14. avatar Dalibor says:

    This is what every Doctor Who fan would like to hear. Now I wish this is not another rumour. Because Marco Polo is really great story. And if Feast of Steven was also recovered (according to rumours) this will be realy great year.


  15. If these are back its from Africa ! I think the media mucked up what a tele recording is ! Not off the tele lol And was it not said that 2 copies had been found ? Of polo…

  16. avatar Larry W. says:

    Hopefully an animated version of Marco Polo will be made if the original episodes cannot be found.

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